NSW regulator hits Betr with record AU$210k fine for launch marketing

NSW regulator hits Betr with record AU$210k fine for launch marketing

Australian sports betting start-up Betr has found itself navigating choppy regulatory waters in New South Wales (NSW), as the state’s gambling authority handed it an AS$210,000 fine.

Liquor & Gaming NSW issued the firm 14 penalty infringements for marketing to promote its launch in October 2022,  specifically for advertising 100/1 and 20/1 odds on major sports events in newspapers, on the radio, television, and online.

The regular stated that these offers – which covered the Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate, National Rugby League (NRL) and Australian Football League (AFL) – contravene NSW gambling law by incentivising consumers to gamble, leading to the largest gambling fine in the state’s history.

Liquor & Gaming NSW Executive Director Regulatory Operations & Enforcement, Jane Lin, said: “This company tried to attract a new customer base and establish a significant market share with promotions that we consider crossed the line, using inducements that had the potential to cause harm to the community.

“In many cases, such promotions can only be legally offered to betting account holders who, unlike the general public, have made a conscious decision to open an account and receive this information.

“Wagering operators can legally advertise their products in a variety of ways but they can’t advertise or promote inducements such as offers of enhanced odds or bonus bets to entice people to open a betting account.”

The regulator did add, however, that Betr had agreed to pay the full penalty and that the matter has now been finalised without any need for court proceedings from either side.

In spite of this, the fine does mark the latest in a series of hurdles the new enterprise has had to endure in 2023, following reports in March that News Corp, one of its principal investors, is growing somewhat disillusioned with the arrangement.

News Corp has reportedly invested AS$49m in the company, with other key players being Matthew Tripp’s TGW business as lead investor and Las Vegas-based Tekkorp Capital as another major investor.

However, News Corp has apparently become dissatisfied with cash spent at the company since its launch, resulting in two of its executives, Peter Blunden and Mark Reinke, standing down from Betr board duties.

In a separate update, Liquor and Gaming NSW revealed that Betr was not the only company to have faced regulatory penalties, as SportChamps was fined $40,000 and ordered to pay an additional $14,000 in costs. 

SportChamps has previously been fined AS$2000 in 2018 and AS$2500 in 2019, with the latest settlement due to adverts on its websites and social media offering free bets, bonus cash prizes, cash prizes for membership-based games and a ‘refer a friend’ promotion.

“Gambling operators like SportChamps that try to get around these restrictions are acting unlawfully and increase the risks of gambling harms,” Lin continued.

“Offering free bets on Facebook and Instagram, including a refer a friend promotion, shows a complete disregard for the rules and the well-being of those in our community who didn’t consent to receive gambling advertising.”

“Liquor & Gaming NSW has a zero-tolerance approach to the publication of illegal gambling inducements and we will continue to proactively monitor television, radio, print and online gambling advertising to ensure all providers are complying with the restrictions in the Betting and Racing Act 1998.”

The fines come against the backdrop of a tightening of gambling policy across Australia, with the New South Wales (NSW) Labor Party announcing proposed reforms ahead of the March 2023 election, which it won with 36.97% of the vote.

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